“She’s sensitive.” These words couldn’t be more true about me. As a child, teenager, athlete, mom, friend, and partner, my sensitivity to the world presented its challenges before I found the true benefits of what being a sensitive soul is all about. There is a term floating around out there, if you are on the road of seeking deep self awareness, you may have heard of and even be a “highly sensitive person”, otherwise known as HSP. There are so many quizzes out there to discover if you are one but if my words resonate with you, then chances are you don’t need a quiz. The question is have you trained yourself to see sensitivity as a source of strength, even resilience, or has it been something that you have learned is a weakness that has to be overcome. For a long time, I thought it was the latter, that my sensitivity was something that set me up to be hurt by the world, so I’d better tread lightly in order not to feel the pain that seemed to be prickling at my skin at almost every moment.
As HSP’s, we have nervous systems that sense the world in a very intense way. We are constantly processing information that other people don’t have to filter as they go about their day. This can be a huge blessing if we can figure out healthy ways to process this wealth of information that we are constantly taking in, but it takes effort. Which leads me to some reasons HSP’s are tougher than I grew up thinking.
1. We build our strength by finding healthy outlets to process what we feel every day.
As we walk through our days, we are going to feel…a lot. I have had people in my life that I can literally feel the pain emanating from them. You can read it in their body language, their tone of voice, and in just the first few words that come out of their mouths. There is a lot of pain in this world, and as HSP’s that are drawn to listen, our nervous systems can quickly be overwhelmed by all of this stimulation. The shortcut to dealing with the emotions that rise up in us is to numb, to try and dull the pain immediately instead of process it. Numbing can turn into addictions - food, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping - anything that releases the short term feel good neurochemicals that calm our heightened nerves - but these things can quickly derail our path and keep us from our highest calling. If we want to pursue deep health and come closer to discovering our true self, we find the skills that teach us to process instead of numbing, and through that attract genuine ways to help ourselves and others. These healthy coping skills are always related to finding our mind/body connection, learning to integrate our physiology and our psychology, our heart and our mind. Breath work, a mindfulness practice, learning how the art of slowing down is actually sometimes how we get ahead, there are ways to integrate our sensitivity into our lives for maximum good. Through this experience we know and understand ourselves better, and self awareness is the key to the most fulfilling life here on this earth.
2. Sensitivity disarms even the toughest exteriors…even if it’s just for a minute.
For the souls who walk around finding it hard to trust in other people and the good that is abundant in the world, often HSP’s are the only ones who can pull that perspective out of them. I have always believed that human beings are innately good, even if some of the choices we make are bad. Our sustained life path comes down to how we handle and either make the most of the good choices, or learn and recover from the bad ones, that makes the road ahead bumpy or smooth. HSP’s are blessed to have the moments of disarming connections with even the most guarded among us and help them feel safe in the world. These moments are priceless because they allow us to get a glimpse at the depth of human potential that is always there and get to be the reason that someone else believes in it, even if it’s just a fleeting moment.
3. Sensitivity is drawn to the beauty in the mundane.
As HSP’s we are lucky because it doesn’t take grand gestures for us to see the beauty in life. In my life, I have experienced the heights of travel, luxury, and material comfort, and understand that if we don’t have the ability to find joy in the simple, costless (and priceless) beauty in this world, we can never connect it to the fancier side of life that our country as a whole seems to be seeking at the highest costs. But as HSP’s, we are able to find beauty in abundance in life’s simplest moments. It’s ok to be moved to tears by music, a sunset, or a baby chasing a ball across the beach. I don’t begrudge anyone the heights of luxury but as HSP’s we have the ability to be moved by the notes of the piano whether they are played on a 40 year old untuned upright in the corner of a simple room or a baby grand in the lobby of the world’s fanciest hotel. And if the music from the upright can bring the chills to the back of your neck and the tears to your eyes, imagine what the notes from the baby grand will do when your true self makes it to that fancy hotel one day.
There are so many ways that HSP’s can own their superpowers and use them to strengthen their path, find deep rooted optimism, and benefit the world. Every day we all walk through life, looking to feel connected and be understood. HSP’s have the ability to offer this gift to others, but it’s in mastering the art of self care for our sensitive souls that we attract relationships with others that care for us too. We have to find the ways to be comfortable in our own skin to be able to integrate our sensitive ways for maximum health. For years of my life, my heart beat faster and my mind raced, I didn’t understand the heightened state I was trying to work from and it sapped my energy. Learning to recognize my sensitivity as a core strength instead of a curse that had to be muted, freed my soul to discover true calm, deep sleep, and more connected relationships with the amazing people that fill this world. If you are feeling weary by all you have taken in, I encourage you to slow down and breathe. If I can help you build these tools, reach out here. Freedom and strength are your birthright, we can be our strongest and most optimistic selves, even at the height of our most sensitive and vulnerable moments, if we uncover the tools that give our deepest feelings a comfortable place to rest.